Jim’s Book: This Gaming Life

I received a hardback copy of my book earlier this week, which is apparently an indication that it’s finally getting released, a couple of weeks late. Apologies to all those people who ordered it and expected their copy to arrive at the end of May, I have no idea why it was delayed. It looks like the UK and Euro distribution could take another couple of weeks, but the US copies should start turning up right about now. It’s in stock at Amazon.com.

Being a first time author has been an interesting experience. This page on Amazon.co.uk is particular interesting, as it shows random vendors selling it from anywhere between £7.50 and £127.59. If anyone went for the £127 copy, I suspect my cut would be fairly similar to that from the £7.50 version. Assuming you can actually get it £7.50. (And if you do want to spend over £100 on it, you can buy a signed copy directly from me…)

Anyway! Links, thoughts, and reviews beyond the jump.

The hardback version of the book, which is what is on sale now, is absolutely beautiful. I can say without any reservation that it is the most impressive, exquisite thing that I’ve created in my life. Thumbing through it is a weird, unsettling experience: at once utterly familiar and strangely alien. I’ve been in print for the best part of a decade, but seeing my words in the covers of a beautifully designed hardback book is still a peculiar thing. Of course after two years living with the text I’m also feeling like my own worst critic. I’m vaguely tempted to author a review of Mr Rossignol’s book, since I’m in an excellent position to tear down his arguments, underline his infelicities of style, and demonstrate where he was lazy or stupid.

Thankfully the actual critics have been reasonably forgiving, including this 8/10 in Wired. “Unless we want the future of entertainment to be regulated into Happy Consumer brand infomercials and stick-and-hoop games in full pads on Astroturf, we’ll need more books like this one,” says Nate Ralph. My friends over at Boing Boing were also fairly positive. Joel Johnson: “The book’s lack of an overarching Gladwellian thesis could be a weakness, but is also a strength: In the welcome post-hyperbolic mode of modern games journalism, the ability to make sweeping proclamations about gaming’s hypothetical effect on society fade to more subtle, even murky reports of the real lives, relationships, and opinions forged and shattered by videogames every day.”

Gaming folk were also kind in their conclusions on the book. Raph Koster said: “This Gaming Life is a fascinating and eye-opening look into the real human impact of gaming culture. Traveling the globe and drawing anecdotes from many walks of life, Rossignol takes us beyond the media hype and into the lives of real people whose lives have been changed by gaming. The results may surprise you.”

And New Yorker staff writer John Seabrook was also lovely: “This is a wonderfully literate look at gaming cultures, which you don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy. The Korea section blew my mind.”

Kotaku also interviewed me about the book, over here.

That interview touches on something that has stuck with me since the writing of the book, and that’s the need to write more, at length. I know there’s this terrible impulse toward system building tied up with writing that includes any kind of theory and analysis, but I have come away from this project with a far better understanding of how a large canvas allows me to work with larger ideas, over longer periods of time. It’s far more of a challenge to juggle 80,000 words worth of material in your mind than it is the succinct 1000-word pieces I usually bash out, but the result can be far more satisfying. It’s a journey rather than a glimpse, and, in this book at least, the greater space has allowed me room to connect otherwise unconnected ideas, and try to sketch out the significance of things that I’d only examined in isolation previously. In short, writing a book as given me a taste for longer, tougher projects. I hope to talk a bit more about what I’ve been working on since the book was finished later in 2008.

Clearly I would love for you folks to all buy a copy of This Gaming Life. It’s been about the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I think you’ll enjoy some of the results. The US version can be ordered from here. And the UK/Euro version should be available soon over here.


  1. Lu-Tze says:

    *has been awaiting an email from Amazon to confirm it’s been dispatched since February*

  2. Meat Circus says:

    “Sales rank: 91,333 in Books”


  3. Lh'owon says:

    Congratulations again Jim. Although I doubt it will appear in New Zealand stores (please correct me if I’m mistaken) Amazon is just as good; I look forward to reading my first book on gaming.

  4. Gulag says:

    Well played & Gratz.

  5. Kieron Gillen says:

    We hates you forevers.


  6. Kunal says:

    Jim – Do you have any idea if this book is going to be released in India ?

  7. Michael Bay says:

    I’d like to buy the rights.

  8. Jim Rossignol says:

    Does Amazon distribute in India? If so then yes. At the moment it’ll only have on-the-shelf distribution in the US and a couple of stores in the UK.

  9. Seniath says:

    Likewise, been waiting patiently for that email from Amazon.co.uk :)

  10. Sënor Spielbergo says:

    I’d like to buy the rights.

    ¡NUNCA! ¡Exigí las derechas detrás en que anterior rosque! ¡Piense en el beneficio que se hará echando equivalentes mexicanos no sindicales!!!

  11. Flint says:

    Lovin’ the cover there.

  12. Kelduum says:


    Congrats Jim, and I was tempted to go for a £100-a-throw signed copy…

  13. Uwe Boll says:

    Don’t do business with Michael Bay. He’s a moron.

  14. Gap Gen says:

    The “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section on Amazon is illuminating.

    Also, congratulations, sir.

  15. Donald Duck says:

    Sounds like a really good book. Congratulations!

  16. Jonathan says:

    Looks good but I think I’ll just torrent the .pdf of it.

  17. Pod says:

    I didn’t understand a word of Joel Johnson’s review. I must be thick.

  18. Nick says:

    Yeah, the DRM on the front cover plus the staggered world distribution means piracy is the only option tbh.

  19. Gap Gen says:

    Well, on first impressions, I can’t find the DVD for some reason but the manual’s really impressive.

  20. Ben Abraham says:

    Cheers Jim. I look forward to being able to afford to buy a copy in the near future. Amazon, ho!

  21. Chris Evans says:

    Still awaiting my dispatch e-mail from amazon :D

    Can’t wait to give this a read, some of the topics you talk about in it seem really interesting!

    I would love to do something like this, hard work but so rewarding at the end.

  22. James G says:

    Now you just need to do a Doctorow and link every post for the next few months back to your book.

    Seriously though, I’ll look at picking up a copy, just once I’ve made sure that my postman is no longer leaving packages outside my door to get stolen. Said thief made off with a copy of Mass Effect last Friday, and I’m pretty sure they stole a copy of the Fallout Collection as well. Props to Amazon though, they sorted out a refund less than two hours after I E-mailed them outside of office hours.

  23. Lightbulb says:

    Man the DRM on this is insane! I don’t have a book drive on my PC how am i supposed to install it to read that damn thing! Gonna torrent it!

    On a serious note: E. Withers wrote a review on amazon.com, i would find it highly amusing if “Rossignol” as they call you posted a reply… But maybe thats just me. :)P

  24. MacBeth says:

    Not sure if it’s going to be any good so I’m going to steal a copy from the bookshop. Then if I decide I like it I’ll take it back to the shop and pay for it…

  25. Lightbulb says:

    MacBeth – I’ve got a better idea… You take a photo of the odd pages, i’ll do the even pages and we can post the scans to each other. If we get more people we only need to do every other page. If we get enough people we only need to copy one or two pages and then everyone can post what they have to everyone.

    It’ll be a real life torrent… I promise to seed to 150%!

  26. Jonathan says:

    This DRM infringes on my human rights! I can’t give a copy to someone without losing the use of my copy. I’m not even allowed to photocopy the words I bought and claim them as my own.

    I am now boycotting books until they remove the DRM.

    1 star out of 10.

  27. Sucram says:

    Amazon UK says Jim and Kieron are perfect partners.

    How sweet.

  28. James says:

    Congratulations, Jim! I’ll be grabbing a copy in the next week or so. Very interested to see what you can do with a whole book to work with.

  29. Cooper says:

    I’m looking forward to this. And to future tomes from yourself and similar others.

    It’s about time that extended writing on computer games is coming from other sources than those involved directly in the industry or development, or collections and monologues from ‘games study’ academics and their ilk who generally have a habit of critiquing-from-a-distance (rather than internally) gaming culture…

  30. Piratepete says:

    fairly meh comment below the review tho.

    I’ll go rahnd his hahse and av a word wiv i’m if you want Jim.

    *cracks knuckles*

  31. Acosta says:

    Amazing Jim, congratulations. As follower of your work and old reader I’ll buy a copy myself anytime soon.

  32. Fumarole says:

    I’ll be picking this up come payday. Rather, someone will be leaving it at my doorstep some days from then.

  33. Citizen Parker says:

    I was wondering when you would pimp this! I got my copy yesterday, it’s faboo.

    I kind of rolled my eyes when you start on Korea, thinking “We need yet another thing on Korea’s gaming culture?” But your approach was so personal and intimate that it made me realize that for all I’ve read and talked about it’s gaming culture, I really didn’t know the first thing about it.

    Oh, and the cover of the book looks much better in reality than it does on Amazon.

  34. Lu-Tze says:

    I do love that Pathologic is in the “Customers who bought this” section.

  35. Matthew says:

    Actually, IS there any option to get a signed version?

  36. Noc says:

    Wait, wait, wait.

    Are you jerks saying that, once I’ve bought the right to read this book, I can only have one copy? What if I want to keep one at my apartment, and one at my parent’s house?

    All this is doing is inconveniencing legitimate customers. We’re all just going to pirate PDFs which we can read on any device we want!

    . . .

    In all seriousness, though, I’ll definitely try and pick this up. Or at the very least see if any of the local libraries miraculously have it in stock.

  37. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    Had this on order with Amazon for a while now, which I believe makes me one of those RPS-ites skewing the ‘customers who bought this’ selection towards Pathologic.

    Also, congrats Jim.

  38. Chris Evans says:

    I want this book now :(

  39. WCAYPAHWAT says:

    Yeah, I’d much rather buy a signed copy, straight from the source. then nod knowingly when people ask “who the hell is this Jim Rossignol guy?”

  40. Shayne Smart says:

    Hey Jim, congratulations on completion of your book. I know you’ve been working on it for a long time, and it’s a great achievement – I’ve heard only rave reviews so far!

  41. Crispy says:

    This is honestly the longest I’ve ever waited for a book any purchase from Amazon.

    It’d better be worth it, or I’ll do something childish and self-righteous like boycott RockPaperShotgun!

    (I could never bring myself to do that, of course, but surely you can ask your publisher for a reason for the late arrival or, as a journo-turned-author, at least use your powers of embellishment and invention to come up with a half-decent excuse.)

  42. Charlie says:

    Really looking forward to this! Just read some feedback from some woman on amazon who never plays games and said she didn’t really understand the book. Christ some people are stupid.

  43. mister slim says:

    Where’s the Steam release?

  44. Crispy says:

    P.S. Heffalumps did it.

  45. Mechamonkey says:

    My copy of this arrived from Amazon today, absolutely lovely look and feel. Cant wait to get stuck in later.

  46. Crispy says:

    Would love to have read this but my Amazon copy arrived in poor condition with scuff marks all over the cover design and even part of the cover ripped off. When I applied for a replacement I was automatically refunded without consultation and told to return the book, the reason being that the item is ‘temporarily out of stock’. When I quizzed them further on this it transpired that ‘temporarily’ could mean anywhere from ‘a month’ to ‘6 months’ to ‘indefinitely’.

    So unless I can find the book sold elsewhere by a more reliable stockist who can actually supply the goods they claim to stock, I won’t be reading any of your work, Jim.

    If anyone has managed to purchase this from a UK stockist other than Amazon -who are now officially on my blacklist for being shit- please let me know. Good news for Play.com who will now be getting all my book/DVD/game orders from now on.

  47. Jim Rossignol says:

    Amazon UK should be resupplied within a week or so, I believe. You can also try to order it from your local bookshop. The ISBN numbers:

    # ISBN-10: 0472116355
    # ISBN-13: 978-0472116355

    Not sure which one you need to order in the UK.

  48. Man Raised By Puffins says:

    It has arrived! It’s a gorgeous book, if nothing else.